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Oulton Millennium Stone

Oulton Millennium Stone

I was just about to have some dinner today when up popped 5 new caches very close to home. How could I resist? The caches were set around great big boulder stones that had been set around the area as part of the Millennium celebrations.

After I had eaten my sandwiches, I was off in the Jeep and was soon pulling up near the first one in the series. I managed to overshoot GZ in my eagerness to get there first and walked back up the lane for an easy find. The location was a great one, just by an old canal bridge which used to span the now defunct Norbury to Newport canal.

Weston Jones Millennium Stone, right outside an old smithy

Weston Jones Millennium Stone, right outside an old smithy

The next one in the series was right by Norbury Junction itself and another easy find. The hide was very audacious given the busy location and the fact it was a decent sized cache container. I wish more caches were as well thought out as these :-).

Next, it was a back-track along the lane leading to the A518 for another quick find by the Village Hall Millennium Stone. After that, it was two more easy FTF’s the other side of the main A518, both in great and very rural locations.

Now to head back home and get on with some work…

Views over the lake at Hilton Gravel Pits nature reserve

Views over the lake at Hilton Gravel Pits nature reserve

This week we fancied a change and spotted a lot of caches we could attempt by bike in the Burton On Trent area. The first ones were along an old railway line stretching up the side of Derby and then there was a few round the village of Hilton, followed by a circuit of the Conkers Discovery Centre near Swadlincote.

View down the old railway line, now a great cycleway

View down the old railway line, now a great cycleway

The first cache was a very short distance down a track and so we parked at the end of the track. We were half way to the cache when someone shouted over at us from a passing car saying we were blocking the track (we were not) and that the track was in use “24 hours a day”. What total rubbish as it was very overgrown and clearly had not seen a vehicle in some time! Anything for a quiet life though and we moved the Jeep to a different parking spot.

Sitting cows - isn't that supposed to mean it's going to rain? Thankfully the cows had got it wrong and it was sunny all day!

Sitting cows - isn't that supposed to mean it's going to rain? Thankfully the cows had got it wrong and it was sunny all day!

Next, we parked up round the corner and got the bikes out for a ride to the caches along the old railway line. This is now a really well looked after cycle track and an absolute pleasure to use. We soon found all 10 or so caches, with a few being a bit sneaky but not *that* hard to find.

A very creative hide on one of the caches (I won't say which)

A very creative hide on one of the caches (I won't say which)

Once back at the Jeep, we headed off for a quick cache in fields by the local village before heading over to Hilton to do the numerous caches there. For such a small place it doesn’t half have quite a few caches ;-).

Hilton Millennium Clock

Hilton Millennium Clock

Our favourites of the ones round here were in this fabulously beautiful Nature Reserve which was hidden behind a very industrial looking lane, right by the side of the main A50. We’d never have known this area was here without caching as we did not seen any signs for it on the way. We had a real treat walking round the 4 caches in the reserve and saw tons of wildlife.

Great views over the nature reserve

Great views over the nature reserve

After that, we did a few more caches in Hilton before deciding to head over towards Swadlincote and the final big bike ride of the day. On the way, we could not resist a few more quick and easy caches around the lovely town of Tutbury. We’ve never heard of this place before and loved the castle on the top of the hill by the town. We’ve made a note to return for a closer visit sometime soon.

An old pit wheel is a fitting reminder of the mining that this area used to know

An old pit wheel is a fitting reminder of the mining that this area used to know

Once in Swadlincote, we parked up by Conkers Discovery Centre and got our bikes out of the Jeep. The trail of caches follows the Blue Route, which is a really nice cycle track round the perimiter of the Conkers Country Park. There were 12 caches spread round the whole circuit and it turned into a really enjoyable experience with a nice mixture of landscapes, caches and hides.

Conkers Circuit - Blue Route marker post

Conkers Circuit - Blue Route marker post

By the end we were ready for an ice cream each but despite it being a lovely day and the Discovery Centre car park being very busy, there was not an ice cream van to be seen. Someone is missing a very good business opportunity here methinks ;-).

Views over a lake on the Conkers Circuit. Hard to imagine all this area used to be used for coal mining.

Views over a lake on the Conkers Circuit. Hard to imagine all this area used to be used for coal mining.

We just had time for a few more caches before we had to go home, so opted for a set of 4 along the Trent and Mersey Canal in Burton, as we could do these by bike too. We DNF’d the first one (it’s since been checked by the cache owner and confirmed missing) but the other 3 caches were quick finds.

A very shady Trent and Mersey Canal in Burton

A very shady Trent and Mersey Canal in Burton

We then headed off to the A38 and the journey home, but not before we grabbed a final two caches.

A great play area near the last cache of the day

A great play area near the last cache of the day

46 finds in total for the day and a great day out with Isaac in a lovely area for caching.

Click here for a link to our route for the day on Everytrail.

Isaac and Freya with the cache

Isaac and Freya with the cache

It was a Bank Holiday on Monday and we’d been invited round to dinner at the in-laws in Blymhill so stopped decided to go the ‘scenic’ route and take in the new cache just south of Gnosall that is an extension of the Special Forces series.

Needless to say it was a very quick find down a narrow lane not too far from the Shropshire Union Canal. Both the children spotted the cache as we pulled up opposite. The hide itself was a really nice one and probably the best of the series so far :-).

Shropshire Church Gem - Shifnal

Shropshire Church Gem - Shifnal

On Saturday, despite breaking up for the half-term holidays yesterday, Isaac had to go into school for Speech Day. I dropped him off and planned to go and do 5 nearby caches while I was waiting to pick him up.

The first on my list was a Shropshire Church Gem in Shifnal and a quick find once I’d realised you access the path to it via the churchyard and not by a nearby street of houses – doh!

By this time the rain had started and was coming down quite heavily, which was not exactly adding to the caching experience. I pressed on regardless in the hope the rain would stop soon (it didn’t!). The next cache was a quick one on a nice walk over some fields and into woodland.

Views over the rapeseed crop while walking to snerdbe's Old Park caches

Views over the rapeseed crop while walking to snerdbe's Old Park caches

The next two caches were an addition to snerdbe’s Old Park cache, which we’d done absolutely ages ago. I parked in the same place as we did the last time we were here and enjoyed the walk (despite the rain!) to both caches.

The last one of my short trip out was another Shropshire Church Gem, this time at the beautiful church in Tong. This was a multi and so I wandered into the churchyard to get the numbers I needed, before returning to the Jeep to woork out the co-ords to the final cache. I would normally have walked the last bit but it was still raining so I drove all the way and parked right by GZ for an easy find.

Once back at school, I was in plenty of time to pick Isaac up. Pity there were not a few more caches I could have looked for to pass the time ;-).

A peaceful stretch of the Coventry Canal

A peaceful stretch of the Coventry Canal

On Sunday Isaac was free and the weather was forecast to be even hotter than it was yesterday. Sounds like a perfect excuse to go caching! We’d had a look for likely destinations and the Barnacle Bimble series just north of Coventry appealed as I’d enjoyed the same cache owner’s other series (Burgo and Beans) last week.

Lovely old traditional caravan by the canal

Lovely old traditional caravan by the canal

We were soon parking up in the village of Barnacle (strange name for a place that is not near the sea!). After getting kitted up for our walk and packing lots of drinks, we set off. The first part of the walk took us over fields and past several fishing pools, then the second part was along the Coventry and Oxford canals. The final part of the walk was back over the fields to where we’d started.

A family of swans on the canal

A family of swans on the canal

The caches were all quick and easy finds with a nice variety of hides and cache sizes. All too soon we were back at the Jeep and planning where to head for next.

Bluebell woods towards the end of the Barnacle Bimble

Bluebell woods towards the end of the Barnacle Bimble

The Fisherman’s Trail to the west of Coventry was next and on the way we picked up a quick drive-by by a Scout camp. The series itself was another great walk in an area we’ve been caching to before. One of the caches was an ammo box too, which is always good to see.

Beautiful views on the Fisherman's Trail

Beautiful views on the Fisherman's Trail

On the way to the next series, we passed through the town of Balsall Common and stopped for a quick drive-by (or so we thought!). No sign of the cache at GZ so we read the cache description only to find that it’s really a puzzle cache type as you have to guess where the final cache is based on some hints on the cache page. Hmmmm, ok … let’s try it anyway. Needless to say we ended up at a bus stop and started to get curious looks from passing motorists so gave up and moved on.

It's always good to find an ammo box. We wish they would be used more.

It's always good to find an ammo box. We wish they would be used more.

The next walk was around the Bloom Trail, which was set in some lovely countryside. All nice quick finds here too with nothing too taxing.

A beautiful day to be out on the canal

A beautiful day to be out on the canal

We were on 34 finds for the day by now but still had an hour or so spare, so decided to see if we could get up to 40 finds for the day.

Strange cache container that looked a bit like an aerosol deodorant bottle

Strange cache container that looked a bit like an aerosol deodorant bottle

The next cache was down this long dead end lane and as we neared the end we could see a fire engine and firemen everywhere. Oh no, I hope there is not a fire. Needless to say there wasn’t and the fire engine was turning round and going on it’s way by the time we parked up. I wonder if they need to update their sat-nav software ;-).

A small yellow hill - rapeseed is in full bloom this time of year

A small yellow hill - rapeseed is in full bloom this time of year

A few drive-by’s followed although we had to be creative about deciding which caches to go for as we’ve found most of the other caches in this immediate area. We ended up heading a bit further north and picking off the final few caches in the Tutti Frutti and Over The Rainbow series. Both these series are spread out all round South and East Birmingham and we’ve done them as individual caches over quite a few seperate trips. We now have the bonus co-ords though :-).

That's Birmingham city centre over there in the distance

That's Birmingham city centre over there in the distance

41 finds for the day and an absolutely excellent day out with my lovely boy in very hot weather. Perfect :-).

Chirk railway bridge viewed from Chirk Aquaduct. The railway bridge was deliberately built higher so as to make it look more superior to the canal.

Chirk railway bridge viewed from Chirk Aquaduct. The railway bridge was deliberately built higher so as to make it look more superior to the canal.

On Saturday I had only intended to do a few caches after I’d dropped Isaac off at school as we’d planned a proper day out caching on Sunday. In the end it turned into quite a bit more than a few caches and took quite a lot of the day!

Lovely wild meadow on the Perry Bridges caches

Lovely wild meadow on the Perry Bridges caches

I headed off along the A5 to tackle the 9 new Perry Bridges caches first. These are all set at bridges along the River Perry in the Oswestry area, some being driveby’s and some being walks down over fields to more remote foot bridges.

The beautiful methodist church in Chirk

The beautiful methodist church in Chirk

Nothing too taxing here and all were nice quick finds, with some of them being in really pretty spots. I was having a great time and decided to carry on caching and head towards Chirk in North Wales as that’s where the next nearest caches were.

Walking along Chirk Aquaduct - I'm a few hundred feet up at this point!

Walking along Chirk Aquaduct - I'm a few hundred feet up at this point!

On the way to Chirk I stopped off for a quick find on a Pirates Of Shropshire caches. In Chirk I started with a quick Church Micro before setting off on foot over the magnificent Chirk Viaduct. This is a HUGE structure, designed by Thomas Telford and both scenic and an extremely impressive feat of engineering. One end is in England and one in Wales so you walk to a different country along the way :-).

Croeso I Cymru

Croeso I Cymru - the Welsh end of Chirk Aquaduct

Welcome to England

Welcome to England - the English end of the Chirk Aquaduct

A few more quick caches round Chirk followed, with my favourite being in this lovely bluebell carpeted woodland near to Chirk Castle. After I’d done in Chirk I dropped back into England to head off to the Pink Wellie series. This is a set of 9 caches in the middle of nowhere and all involving some kind of physical challenge e.g. wading, climbing trees, screambling up slippery banks.

The massive chocolate factory in Chirk

The massive chocolate factory in Chirk

I came a cropper at the first one as it was nowhere to be seen. I’d even crawled down the badger track under the hedge and into a culvert by the road as intended but still could not spot the cache. I gave up and moved onto the next one, which involved taking off my walking boots, rolling up my pants and wading over a river under a roadbridge to get the cache – great fun :-).

Traditional church in Chirk town centre

Traditional church in Chirk town centre

The rest of the series were equally as good – the main thing being having to do something a bit different on each one to get the smiley. On the way round I passed a wedding party just coming out of the church in the village of Duddleston.

I don't own any wellies (especially not pink ones!) so had to wade barefoot to get the cache

I don't own any wellies (especially not pink ones!) so had to wade barefoot to get the cache

After this, I went off to look for the new Tetchill Tour caches, all set around the small village of Tetchill. On the way I grabbed two drive-by’s, both of which I’m still wondering about as they were both at the side of a nonedescript stretch of road. Why put a cache there?

Lovely canal on part of the Tetchill Tour

Lovely canal on part of the Tetchill Tour

The Tetchill caches were a nice walk and some fun hides. By now I really should start heading for home but could not resist picking off the few drive-by’s between Ellesmere and Whitchurch as they have been on my closest to home not found list for way too long.

Friendly cows on the Tetchill Tour

Friendly cows on the Tetchill Tour

One of the drive-by’s had the part co-ords for a nearby puzzle cache that has been out for 4 months now, but never found. I had a quick look and the other part of the co-ords were in a cache about 6 miles to the north of where I was, so off I set.

Old water pump in Tetchill - there's a cache in it too!

Old water pump in Tetchill - there's a cache in it too!

With the full co-ords for the unfound cache, I plotted them on my GPSr and realised they were (sort of) on my way home. What better way to end the day than with a FTF, which is just what I did :-). A very satisfying end to a great day on what has been the hottest day of the year.

On the way to my FTF (I won't say which canal it is though ;-))

On the way to my FTF (I won't say which canal it is though ;-))

37 finds in some beautiful and unspoilt countryside.

Beautiful methodist chapel in Barton In The Beans

Beautiful methodist chapel in Barton In The Beans

I was going to go caching with Isaac on Sunday this weekend but the weather forecast did not favour Sunday, so I opted to go on my own on Saturday instead. As it turns out, we had beautiful weather on Sunday too, so I could have gone caching them in the end. Typical!

Part of the walk is along the Leicestershire Round - a network of paths round the edge of the county

Part of the walk is along the Leicestershire Round - a network of paths round the edge of the county

My main target for the day is the Burgo and Beans series, which is a figure of 8 walk between two villages with the very unusual names of Newton Burgoland and Barton In The Beans. After that I had two options:

  • another circular walk of about 4 miles near Ashby De La Zouch
  • as many other caches as I could find in the area, picking on easier caches
Battlefield Line old railway - looks great with lots of old diesel locos going up and down the old tracks

Battlefield Line old railway - looks great with lots of old diesel locos going up and down the old tracks

I parked up in the lovely village of Barton and set off on foot. Nothing too taxing caching wise on this series, with all caches having spot-on co-ords and sensible hides. Quite a few of the hides were either fun containers or well thought out hides which added to my enjoyment. The walk was an excellent variation of different terrain and scenery too :-).

Which way next?

Which way next?

My only failure was on the penultimate cache of the series, which was a small bright green bison tube hanging on a fence. How could I miss it? Try as I might I could not spot it and after 15 minutes looking for it I gave up and moved on. I see it was found later the same day and in the days following this, so I’m not sure what I was missing. Oh well, you can’t find them all…

The very pretty canal section of the walk

The very pretty canal section of the walk

I’d not been feeling 100% at the start of the day as I’ve got a mild cold so opted for the easy option for the rest of the day and set off to find some drive-by’s and shorter walk caches. Ordinarily I would have done the next walk as I was looking forward to it, but was just not feeling full of energy at this stage.

Not many buses stop here! A sheltered seat looking out over the fields.

Not many buses stop here! A sheltered seat looking out over the fields.

I did a few caches near to Barton, including a great one at the site of an old Gibbet. Here’s a link to the cache concerned as the history of the place makes gruesome reading :-).

The Gibbet Post near to a cache

The Gibbet Post near to a cache

I was wondering where to head for next as I still had tons of time left so spent a while scouring the possibilities on Memory Map. The area just to the south of Swadlincote looked promising and was an area we’ve enjoyed caching in before, so off I headed.

Quite a few more quick and easy caches followed, including one on a lovely longer walk up a hill called Hanging Hill. What is it with these parts and gruesome places? First a gibbet and now a hanging hill! All good fun now, but I bet they were not places you’d want to go anywhere near in years gone by :-(.

The Moira Wilderness - an area where coal pits once were and it's not quite given itself over to nature yet

The Moira Wilderness - an area where coal pits once were and it's not quite given itself over to nature yet

After I’d done in this area, I had another look at Memory Map and the area towards Bretby looked promising. We’d had a DNF in this area ages ago but there are now quite a few other caches to keep me interested. A short drive later and I was at the first one.

Great views from the hills in the Bretby Estate

Great views from the hills in the Bretby Estate

A couple of the Bretby caches were in some lovely bluebell carpeted woods on the Bretby Estate and an absolute pleasure to walk to. One of the fab things about this time of year and caching is being taken to beautiful places like this :-).

It was now time to start heading for home, but with 49 finds for the day I just had to find at least one more…

Lovely bluebells near to one of the caches

Lovely bluebells near to one of the caches

On the way to Burton On Trent I passed through an area called Briz Valley, which had quite a few new caches in it. Perfect :-).

I managed a final three caches here, including one that the specimin bottle cache container had been found by a muggle and used for it’s real purpose. Needless to say when I opened it, I thought it was water and shook the container to get rid of the water. I ended up with someone’s wee all over my hands and t-short – yuck! I’m so glad it’s at the end of the day and not the start of the day as I can go home and take a shower now.

Views from the 'wee' cache - not bad at all, shame about the cache though

Views from the 'wee' cache - not bad at all, shame about the cache though

Just before I got on the main A38 to home, I could not resist one last cache at a TB hotel just by the junction.

53 finds in total for the day and another great day out (apart from the wee incident). Here’s a link to a plot of my route for the day on Everytrail.com, including photos from along the way.

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